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Minnesota Safe Haven Laws

In Minnesota, a newborn’s mother or any person with the mother’s approval may leave a newborn not older than 72 hours with a hospital employee, at a hospital in the State without being subject to prosecution.  T he newborn must be in an unharmed condition while leaving it at the hospital.[i]

Any licensed hospital may accept an unharmed newborn infant not more than 72 hours old left with a hospital employee on the hospital premises by its mother or any other person approved by the mother.[ii] The hospital accepting the newborn must not inquire any identifying information of the mother or the person leaving the newborn or call the police.  However, hospitals may inquire the identity and inform the police if the newborn is in a harmed when presented to the hospital.[iii]

The hospital may make an effort to collect information regarding the medical history of the mother or newborn from the person leaving the newborn.  However, the person may not be compelled to provide any information.  The hospitals may provide the mother or the person leaving the newborn with information about how to contact relevant social service agencies. [iv]

The hospitals have a duty to inform the local welfare agency that a newborn has been left at the hospital within 24 hours of receiving a newborn.  However, the hospitals may inform the agency only after the newborn’s mother or the person leaving the newborn leaves the hospital. [v]

Hospitals and any employee, doctor, or other medical professional working at the hospital receiving the newborn in good faith are immune from any civil or criminal liability relating to accepting a newborn.[vi]  Additionally, they are also immune from any criminal or civil liability that might result from the failure to make a report under section 626.556 (dealing with reporting of maltreatment of minors) if they are acting in good faith in compliance with the Safe Haven laws. [vii]

A local social service agency taking custody of an abandoned child discharged from a hospital need not make any efforts to reunite the child with the child’s parent.  The agency is also not required to search for relatives of the child as a placement or permanency option, or to devise any other placement requirements that give a preference to relatives if the agency does not have any identifying information about the child, the child’s mother, or the child’s father. [viii]  In Minnesota, a child left at a hospital according to the safe haven laws will be considered as an abandoned child for the purpose of adoption proceedings or any other proceedings relating to the relinquishment of newborns. [ix]

[i] Minn. Stat. § 609.3785

[ii] Minn. Stat. § 145.902

[iii] Minn. Stat. § 145.902

[iv] Minn. Stat. § 145.902

[v] Minn. Stat. § 145.902

[vi] Minn. Stat. § 145.902

[vii] Minn. Stat. § 145.902

[viii] Minn. Stat. § 260C.139

[ix] Minn. Stat. § 260C.139

Inside Minnesota Safe Haven Laws